In the two and a half days since Civilization V: Brave New World was released, I’ve already spent in the area of 12 hours with the game. The reasons for that logistical miracle in my life are not interesting, but needless to say that is a pretty unusual stretch of time for me to spend with a game in such a short span. To be honest, I hadn’t intended to spend nearly that long. I had not spent the previous weeks and months anxiously waiting for the expansion pack, and had a passing interest at best in what the Firaxis team was doing with the game. I figured my time with Civ V had probably come pretty close to its end, and I had moved on.
I was wrong.
Like a lot of people, when I think of great expansion to Civilization games, my immediate thought is of Civilization IV’s “Beyond the Sword” expansion. “BtS” did a lot of things to move the series forward when it was released in 2007, like adding Corporations, Espionage, additional win conditions and the requisite new civs, new buildings and new resources. On paper, “Beyond the Sword” isn’t automatically anything remarkably special, but its implementation into Civilization IV was so clean, so tonally on point, that everything about the game immediately felt like it should have been in the game the entire time. It was the puzzle piece that brought everything about Civ IV together into a coherent and exceptionally elegant game.
That is what “Brave New World” feels like for Civilization V. It is an expansion that looks pretty good on paper, but in execution feels like the game fully realized. In one fell swoop suddenly all the parts of Civilization V are working in unison consistently throughout the entire span of the game.